A New Roundabout Means Safer Driving And More Walkability At Gwinnett Place
One of the busiest intersections in Gwinnett Place, the junction of Venture Drive and Day Drive, is set to be replaced by a roundabout, with construction underway. Only a few hundred yards from Interstate 85, the intersection serves two of the most active properties within the Gwinnett Place district.
Eliminating the four-way intersection should keep drivers safer, but local commercial property owners also hope it will draw more visitors. The roundabout is the latest in a string of construction and landscaping projects aimed at making Gwinnett Place a greener, more walkable community.
“We’re working to bring this area into the 21st century more quickly,” said Joe Allen, executive director of the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District. “An investment like the one we are making at Venture and Day Drive sends a message that the community is both eager and ready for redevelopment.”
Allen called 2019 Gwinnett Place’s “summer of construction”; numerous street-level improvements are underway in the area. Sidewalks and streetscapes were recently completed along Pleasant Hill Road, Old Norcross Road and Steve Reynolds Boulevard. The intersection of Venture Drive and Steve Reynolds Boulevard is receiving new curbs, turn lanes, gutters and sidewalks. Construction to extend an on-ramp onto I-85 from Pleasant Hill Road is slated to begin later this July.
The roundabout will serve as an entrance to the Santa Fe Mall, a popular set of boutiques that caters to Gwinnett County’s Latino community, as well as to Mall Corners, a large shopping center with numerous restaurant and retail choices.
The roundabout is designed to alleviate traffic and accidents at what has long been a troublesome intersection. Allen described how he was once showing the intersection to the director of the Gwinnett County Department of Transportation. As they walked over, a car speeding along Venture Drive rammed into a car pulling out of a nearby parking lot.
Georgians are generally wary of roundabouts, Allen said, and consider them slow, or worse, dangerous. But roundabouts are largely safer and more environmentally friendly than intersections. Rather than forcing drivers to stop at stop signs or traffic lights, they keep cars flowing. When the rare collision occurs, they are usually at low speeds and at an angle, rather than the side-on, high-speed crashes that plague T-intersections.
A study of more than 300 roundabouts in Wisconsin found that the junctions experienced a 38% drop in car deaths and injuries compared to their traffic-signal controlled predecessors.
In response to skeptics, Allen pointed to the diverging diamond interchange — an initially counterintuitive but efficient on-ramp and off-ramp scheme — that was installed on Pleasant Hill Road in 2013.
“People said ‘Drivers won’t understand it’ back then, but now it’s reduced accidents significantly and moves traffic much more efficiently,” Allen said.
The roundabout won’t just benefit drivers. The $2M renovation includes funding for sidewalks, crosswalks, landscaping and lighting. Allen said these improvements are investments in a more walkable future for all of Gwinnett Place.
“Gwinnett Place was built as the ultimate auto-centric shopping mecca back in the 1980s,” Allen said. “But now in the mornings, I see residents and visitors jogging on the new sidewalks and walking to work. People are demanding more accessible, livable communities to work and live.”
There is still work to be done to make Gwinnett Place an ideal walkable community — over 40% of its land is still covered by parking spaces. But Allen said the fact that Gwinnett County and the CID have added sidewalks to all the main thoroughfares is a massive achievement and a testament to the willingness of the community to invest in its own redevelopment and bright future.
This feature was produced by Bisnow Branded Content in collaboration with the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.